10 February 2023

Edinburgh College students perform during South African adventure

Seven Edinburgh College students swapped the cold Scottish winter for the warm temperatures and sunny beaches of South Africa after travelling across the world to take part in a disability-led inclusive arts festival.

The HND Acting and Performance students and their lecturer flew out to Cape Town at the start of December as part of a week-long adventure which culminated in the group performing at the Arts Ability Festival at the city’s Artscape Theatre. 

The students were invited alongside a cohort of attendees organised by the Edinburgh Festival Carnival, and took part in a series of workshops and rehearsals throughout the week in preparation for their final performance at the end of the week.

HND Acting and Performance student Gwen Dolan said: “I feel incredibly blessed and grateful that I was chosen for the project and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, as a dancer, but also as a tourist. Our role was to participate in workshops and rehearsals and devise our own dance performance which we then performed to a live audience at the Arts Ability Festival.

“It was amazing to have the opportunity to travel that far from home and experience a culture outwith Europe which was a dream come true. The people we met through Artscape and Unmute couldn't have been friendlier and more welcoming. We were very well looked after by them and introduced to so many people and had the pleasure of attending the other dance shows that were happening at the theatre.”

The group also had the opportunity to tour the country on some down time, exploring the city and beyond, enjoying trips to Cape Town’s glorious beaches, while also adventuring further afield during day trips to the famous Table Mountain and to Robbin Island, which sits off the coast of the city.

Edinburgh College Broadcast Media student Pete Turner travelled with the group and produced the behind-the-scenes documentary piece covering the students’ experience on the trip.

The Arts Ability Festival is a disability-led inclusive arts festival that has been held annually since 2015 in Cape Town. The festival is presented by Unmute Dance Company in partnership with Artscape Theatre Centre, supported by the National Arts Council of South Africa.

Performing Arts lecturer Ashling-Findlay Carroll said: “This was an amazing opportunity for our students to work within a professional context and also learn about a different culture. The Arts Ability festival in Cape Town is ground-breaking in its commitment to showcasing the work of Professional Disabled and Disabled-led companies and the calibre of the work was outstanding. A real eye-opening experience and I hope that we will continue to build on this relationship in the future.”